Book Review: The Body Under the Bridge (A Father Gilbert Mystery, Book 1), by Paul McCusker

Publisher:  Lion Hudson   |   Publication date: 20th November 2015

Body under the Bridge My Review

The Body Under The Bridge - Kindle CoverAn exquisitely written murder mystery of a mild paranormal persuasion, that’s the best description I can muster for this book! Being drenched in local history, longstanding family feuds emerge to take centre stage. With a nod toward a deathly curse, a trio of curious artefacts connected to Cromwell are sure to bring tragedy to the door of St Mark’s Church.

Father Gilbert’s ex-detective instincts battle with his logic after a series of disturbing visions are bestowed upon him. Following the death of his wife, his faith is forever intact and he’s ever the professional, taking his duties seriously. So when he is called to the aide of a parishioner, who is threatening to jump from the tower of the church, he rushes there without delay. What awaits him is a distraught fellow by the name of Colin Doyle, who after an odd conversation exchange, hands Father Gilbert a gold medallion. Shortly afterwards, Doyle jumps to his death. Gilbert calls for his staff to assist, but peculiarly there is no body and it’s determined that Colin Doyle could not have jumped, as he was discovered later, hanging in his garage at home.

And then a body appears on Lord Haysham’s land, a body under a bridge. It’s clear it’s been there since a bygone era.  The ground had already been disturbed before the police arrive on the scene, pressing a further investigation as to why.

More sinister experiences later for both Gilbert and those around him, it seems pentagrams are becoming a popular theme after being discovered at the scene of the most recent crimes. This, plus the rivalry of two families spanning centuries are keeping a so-called curse alive, threatening to haunt Father Gilbert and bring St Mark’s into disrepute. Even the police investigators are competing against one another. It seems this case is bringing out the worst in everyone.

Through sheer tenacity, together with Father Benson’s chauffeuring skills and the watchful eye of the church secretary, who throws a cold stare at the flirtatious artefact expert, Mary Aston, Gilbert must restore order and get to the bottom of the so-called resurrected curse. The task is made more difficult as he is expending precious energy trying to resist Mary’s charms. Gilbert just needs to remember to take a service every now and then before his secretary becomes even more restless!

Exactly how far will the killer be prepared to take their duty is anyone’s guess. One thing’s for sure, good and evil will clash swords and the lives of those who remain connected to the investigation hang precariously by a thread. The paranormal connotations are subtle yet enough to make an impact, and given the church’s unofficial investigation it goes without saying there’ll be references to religion, but it’s not presented in a preachy tone.

This is a genuine, brooding mystery concerning an inheritance that no one wants. The drama unfurls magnificently, with a dash of witty dialogue and a wonderful host of varied characters it kept me engrossed. If you like your crime approached in a traditional way while still having some meat on its bones, then you won’t go far wrong with A Body Under The Bridge.

Rating: 4/5

(My thanks to Rhoda at Lion Hudson for providing this atmospheric-looking paperback copy for review. Much appreciated.)

Body under the Bridge Book Summary

(Courtesy of Amazon UK)

A former Scotland Yard detective, Father Gilbert knows about death. But, now a priest of a modest Anglican church in the small town of Hailsham, he didn’t expect it to show up like this – in the suicide of a man who threw himself off the church tower, and in the discovery of a two-hundred-year-old body beneath an ancient bridge.

The deaths are linked. The mummified corpse under the bridge, a murder victim, reignites a centuries-old battle between two local families – the Todds and the aristocratic Hayshams. Then both David Todd and Lord Haysham begin to act strangely. They are fearful for reasons they won’t explain.

When Lord Haysham is murdered, David Todd is the prime suspect. But Todd is acting maniacal, claiming great forces of evil are at work. An entire history of violence and depravity begins to emerge – interweaving the history of several local families with a secret occult society that engages in Black Masses. Has the Society emerged again?


Body under the Bridge Author Profile

(Courtesy of Amazon UK)

Paul McCusker is Creative Director at Focus on the Family. He has sold more than a million books and twenty million audio dramas. His name is also heard daily on radio stations all over the world, and by at least two million listeners every weekend through the Adventures in Odyssey series.